The Very Early Days
In 1908, when Calgary was a city of 20,000, a bylaw was passed for $95,000 to be directed toward a new General Hospital. This amount was largely augmented by private subscriptions. The hospital was managed by a private board. There were no health care programs at this time, many doctors donated their time and basic care and comfort of patients was performed by volunteers.
In that same year, 1908, Mrs. Basil Hamilton, secretary of the Women’s Hospital Society (the volunteer group for the General Hospital) called a meeting of young girls over 16 to form an auxiliary to the parent society to see to the needs of the Children’s Ward. Of the 8 volunteers, Miss Jean Pinkham became the first president. To look after the Children’s Ward, the girls supplied beds, bedding, linoleum, dishes and homemade nightgowns.
In 1910, the Girl’s Hospital Aid Society was incorporated. The girls raised money to support the Children’s Ward by holding bazaars, teas and selling violets. During World War I, the focus of the society changed to assisting the IODE and doing Red Cross work.
On May 18, 1922, the Red Cross officially opened the Junior Red Cross Hospital at 522 18th Avenue SW. It had 35 beds. It was the first children’s hospital in Canada and to date, the only free standing Children’s Hospital in Alberta.
When Miss Edythe Lilly, a long-time member of the Girl’s Hospital Aid Society, heard the news of the new hospital, she called 6 former members to reactivate the society. Their purpose was to “relieve the physical wants and necessities of children in poor circumstances during sickness and convalescence”. Annual society dues were $1.00, they held 10 meetings a year and the membership grew to 60.
In 1926, a number of members felt Girl’s Hospital Aid Society was no longer a suitable name as many members were now older and married. It was decided by vote to change the name to Children’s Hospital Aid Society (CHAS), and so it remains to this day.
CHAS is a registered charity and a volunteer-based organization with an operating budget supported by and based on membership fees from 75 women and their abilities to fundraise. This outstanding group of women has developed many successful fundraising projects for children.
The original mandate of CHAS has remained steadfast for over 106 years to serve southern Alberta’s children and young adults by Caring, Helping, Assisting and Serving. Unlike many other fundraising organizations, CHAS has no paid staff and minimizing expenses is a priority. CHAS has no permanent office and meetings are held in a rented room in a church or in members’ homes.
CHAS has organized many fundraising projects. Some of the earlier events included rummage sales, Easter teas, fashion shows, dog and horse shows, program sales at Calgary Stampeders football games, boutonniere production and sales at derby races and an annual shinny bowl game – a fun competition between Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos. In 1942, CHAS even made the bold move of raffling off a house – another 1st fundraiser in Calgary for its time.
In 1945, CHAS members started a stamp selling campaign in Calgary, similar to one seen in the United States. This was a hands-on and time-consuming project. It became very lucrative providing increased funds for use at the ACH.
After more than 10 years of running this successful campaign on their own, CHAS partnered with Easter Seals Alberta. Their longstanding association helped create a camp for the disabled in Bragg Creek, known today as Camp Horizon. Although the partnership for the stamp campaign came to an amiable end in 2000, CHAS maintains a strong relationship with Camp Horizon supporting annual camperships and providing funds when needed. Currently, CHAS is partnering with Easter Seals Alberta on an exciting fundraising event, Woman2Warrior.
Annual Charity Golf Classic
In 1983, CHAS initiated a new fundraising event – an annual charity golf classic tournament. Since its inception, a total of over $4.9 million has been raised for use at the ACH and other community charities. CHAS has received sustained support for its golf tournament from the Borger family for 29 years and presently from Rob Laidlaw and Acumen Capital Partners.
Since 1983, CHAS has contributed $3.6 million to the ACH. Funds have been applied to such needs as the Research Centre (1983 – 1986), hospital library, swimming pool, heli-pad, and specific diagnostic and treatment equipment. One of CHAS’ legacy projects with the ACH was the purchase of a Pediatric Human Patient Simulator. In recent years, CHAS has been supporting the hospital’s Brain Health Initiative through research and equipment purchases.
Over the years, CHAS has piloted many new events that have become annual favorites. Since 1996 we have held an annual Bridge Luncheon. In 1999 we hosted our first Holiday Luncheon auctioning Ceramic Artwork. Over the years, this popular event has taken many different forms including a partnership with IKEA to auction art work made from donated IKEA pieces. We have also hosted several Speakers’ Dinners and Brunches with headliners such as Linda Lundstrom, Lynda Reeves, Larry and Margaret Dickenson, British Consul General Tony Kay OBE and Brian Keating.
Mary Selby Scholarship
The Mary Selby Scholarship was established in May 2000 to honour the memory of Mary Selby who had been an active member of CHAS. It was established to support a youth attending the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary.
In addition to our long-standing fundraising events, CHAS ladies also volunteer their time making lunches at Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids and dinners at Ronald McDonald House, answering phones at the annual ACH Radiothon and hosting an annual Easter Party at the ACH for patients and their families.
The contribution of the many dedicated members of CHAS over the past 108 years has made a significant difference in the lives of children in southern Alberta. We are proud of our reputation of being one of the most prudently managed and successful fundraising agencies in our community.
Funding Community Charities
CHAS has also provided funding to many community charities, in addition to the ACH and Camp Horizon. Just some of the charities CHAS funded in the past five years alone are:
- The Alex
- The Arthritis Society Camp
- Between Friends
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary
- CanLearn Society (formerly Calgary Learning Centre)
- Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
- Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing
- Education Matters, Louise Dean School
- EvenStart for Children Foundation of Calgary
- Heart Beats Children’s Society of Calgary
- Hospice Calgary
- Hull Services, Patch Program
- Inn from the Cold
- Jamie’s Preschool
- Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta
- Pediatric Obesity Foundation
- Ronald McDonald House
- Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary
- Sherwood School
- Autism, Aspergers Friendship Society
- Stanley Jones School
- Wood’s Home
- Sheriff King Home